James Levine and Plácido Domingo add yet another chapter to their legendary Met collaboration with this rarely performed Verdi gem, a heart-wrenching tragedy of fatherly love. Sonya Yoncheva sings the title role opposite Piotr Beczała in the first Met performances of the opera in more than ten years.
Verdi’s initial idea for a new opera – for which he had a contract going back over several years – was rejected by the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. He attempted to negotiate his way out of this obligation and, when that failed, Cammarano came up with the idea of adapting the Schiller play, with which Verdi was familiar. The process was set in motion, with Verdi still living and working on initial ideas from Paris, where he had been living for almost two years before moving back to his home town of Busseto in the summer of 1849. It was from there that he wrote the music and traveled to Naples for rehearsals. The first performance was given on 8 December 1849.
Elijah Moshinsky – Production
Duana Schuler – Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto – Set & Costume Designer
Stage Director – Kristine McIntyre
Julian Budden provides a summary of the strengths of this opera and demonstrates how it takes on many new dimensions based on several things: the relatively longer time-frame for completing the piece, the fact that Verdi did make sketches of some of the music in advance, the opportunity “to allow the newly-acquired Parisian elements to become assimilated into his Italian style” – resulting in “the best of it set[ting] a new standard in Verdian opera.” He demonstrates how in act 3, “the sensitive scoring, the flexibility of the musical forms, the growing importance of the role which Verdi assigned to the orchestra … permits him to write two lengthy dialogue recitatives (Luisa and Miller; Luisa and Rodolfo). Of these two duets, David Kimball notes that they “best illustrate Verdi’s habit of fashioning the musical forms to match the dramatic purpose”, although Parker slightly qualifies this by stating that he sees the opera’s importance amongst those written pre-Rigoletto as being not so much “for its formal experiments as for its control of conventional musical forms, especially the grand duet.” In that regard, he sees it as resembling Il trovatore.
Conductor – James Levine
Luisa – Sonya Yoncheva
Federica – Olesya Petrova
Rodolfo – Piotr Beczala
Miller – Placido Domingo
Miller – Luca Salsi
Walter – Alexander Vintogradov
Wurm – Dmitry Belosselskiy